Improving San Diego Streets By Improving Its E-Scooter Policy
Cities | October 23, 2019 | Share
When your city is among the original pioneers of micromobility adoption, there are bound to be both rewards and challenges.
As early as February, 2018, San Diego opened its streets to dockless bikes, followed shortly by e-bikes and electric scooters. Millions of rides were taken across the city in the 20 months that followed -- more than 4 million by Lime riders alone. Many of these replaced short-distance car trips. According to a Lime survey conducted in July, approximately 30% of scooter riders’ most recent trips were made in lieu of travel by personal car, rideshare or taxi.
To put that in context, a recent sustainability report released in Paris determined that, between June, 2018 and September, 2019, Lime riders had eliminated 1.2 million vehicle rides and prevented 330 metric tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere.
Along with reductions in traffic congestion and CO2 emissions, Lime has advanced strong relationships with community organizations. San Diego riders who have opted into the Lime Hero donation program have helped raise over $6,000 for the Climate Action Campaign, a local nonprofit dedicated to stopping the climate crisis through policy action.
Lime was also the first scooter operator to implement a series of proactive safety workshops in coordination with San Diego Bike Coalition. Dubbed “First Ride,” these free training sessions are held throughout the city to educate new scooter riders about the rules of safe micromobility use and proper parking etiquette, including riding off of sidewalks. Participants are also given free helmets.
“I believe scooters provide a valuable service and connect destinations,” said Barb, a San Diego Lime rider who uses Lime to supplement various modes of transportation around the city. “With proper user education, they’re a valuable transportation alternative.”
NEW REGULATIONS AND SCOOTER CAP
Despite these successes, however, there are clear opportunities for improvement, particularly when it comes to the concentration of San Diego’s 19,000 permitted micromobility vehicles.
In a recent opinion piece published in the Voice of San Diego, Lime General Manager Kimia Talebian called on city leaders to “implement a transparent performance-based cap on scooter companies” that will have “the ability to reward good operators and equitably penalize the truly poor-performing ones.”
As an example, Talebian suggests limiting operators to a maximum of 3,000 vehicles with the potential to add more if certain conditions are met, including:
- Demonstrating a minimum of 3 rides per day per scooter
- Responding promptly to city requests and Get It Done tickets
- Consistently serving transit deserts
- Innovating solutions to community concerns
This, Talebian argues, along with collaborative public-private initiatives such as speed zones, parking corrals, foot patrol teams and equity programs, will allow San Diego to continue leading the way forward on thoughtful and effective micromobility implementation.
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